Family of footballer Emiliano Sala launch legal action

Rod Minchin, PA
·2-min read

The family of footballer Emiliano Sala have launched legal action over his death in an air crash two years ago.

Lawyers for the family said the High Court action has been started in order to “protect their legal rights”.

The single-engine Piper Malibu plane carrying the 28-year-old Argentinian, who was involved in a multimillion-pound transfer from FC Nantes in France to Cardiff City FC, crashed north of Guernsey on January 21, 2019.

His body was recovered the following month, but the aircraft’s unqualified pilot, David Ibbotson, 59, from Crowle, Lincolnshire, has not been found.

David Henderson, who is alleged to have arranged the flight, is due to stand trial in October accused of endangering the safety of an aircraft, as well as attempting to discharge a passenger without valid permission or authorisation.

Details of High Court action emerged before a pre-inquest review was due to take place in Bournemouth, Dorset, on Wednesday into the footballer’s death.

Lawyer Daniel Machover, of Hickman & Rose Solicitors, said: “The family of Emiliano Sala are asking the coroner to fix the inquest date when she reviews matters, with a date soon after the trial of David Henderson, which has been fixed for October 18 2021.

“In the meantime, in order to protect their legal rights and remedies arising from Emiliano’s untimely death, the family have commenced civil proceedings in the High Court, but will seek agreement to stay those proceedings pending the outcome of the inquest.

“That makes it all the more important for the inquest date to be fixed, so everyone can plan accordingly.

“Most importantly, the family know that the inquest will provide the answers to the very many questions they have about what went wrong in January 2019 and why Emiliano’s life was cut short.”

Emiliano Sala missing plane
Emiliano Sala’s mother Mercedes, left, and sister Romina arrive at Guernsey Airport (Joe Giddens/PA)

A report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch previously concluded the aircraft carrying Sala and Mr Ibbotson suffered an in-flight break-up while being flown too fast for its design limits, and that the pilot lost control while attempting to avoid bad weather.

It added that Mr Ibbotson was probably affected by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Investigators found a contributory factor in the crash was Mr Ibbotson having no training in night flying, and a lack of recent practice in relying only on cockpit instruments to control a plane.

They also found he held a private pilot’s licence that did not allow him to conduct flights for reward.